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On...the dark night of the soul

There are times for us all when we question the reason why certain difficult things happen, ponder the greater purpose of the unpleasant. Anyone and everyone on any sort of real spiritual path has done it…or they will, if they have not already. "Why do bad things happen to good people?", we often ask. We might never know, but what we do know, unfortunately, is that the only way our faith is accurately tested is not in our joyful moments, but in the challenging ones.

There are many sayings about “light coming through the cracks and broken places”, which is absolutely true…but when we are in the thick of things or when we are the one suffering, grieving or struggling, such platitudes don’t always help. The reality is that there are no surface solutions to the big challenges life gives us; there is no easy way to solve complicated problems.

If we believe in our ability to prevail, to persevere, to transcend, we can dig deep and find the bandwidth to keep moving forward and not be paralyzed by despair or fear. Humanity has done it for thousands of years. Survival instinct, perhaps…but something inside us ignited the urge to keep going and reminds us that the only way out is through. This takes grit, hope and faith for sure, and in difficult times, none are easy to maintain. What can we turn to when hope is fading and we are close to giving up or losing faith? This is where our “Spiritual Toolbox” and our “Spirit/Soul Community” come in.

A well stocked spiritual toolbox has a cadre of practices, whether it be Yoga, Meditation, Journaling, walking, prayer, connecting to Nature, or reading uplifting books/texts to assist us in keeping our feet on the ground and our internal GPS focused on the “due North” of the Divine. Of course, traditional activities like attending services or sitting quietly in a church, mosque or temple can also help us by surrounding us by the ambient energy of the prayers and petitions of all the others who might once have sat in that very spot, struggling in the very same way; reminding us that we are not alone. It is important to note that these practices are cultivated steadily and consistently in both good times and bad; if your worst day is your first day ( of anything), you have nothing established to draw from.

Our soul family, (the word tribe is big right now; it's a word I don’t usually use, but you can if you want) are the people we feel close to, safe with, seen by, and connected to. The people who hold the space for us without judgement, who don’t give unsolicited advice, who don’t tell us what we “should” do, who just love us, and actually listen. They understand that in order to heal, we must feel, so they allow us to fully feel our sadness, fear, disappointment or grief…in a way that is real, not placating.

We can also refresh our faith and renew our hope by recalling other blessings we have received, other things we are grateful for, other situations that have turned out alright in the end; we can use the love that we have or have had in our life as a reservoir to draw from when our heart seems empty and closed. We cannot underestimate the incredibly soothing, unconditional love of pets. We know love is the highest vibration, and is the most healing energy of all, no matter who it comes from. Last, but never least, we can practice surrender: as spiritual "grownups" we must learn to accept that we don’t have all the answers, and sometimes never will but that is part of the deal: it is all part of the mystery of this Life that we have chosen. All we can do is live all of it, as fully as possible, with as much joy as possible, with as much Presence as possible. And of course, not waste or take for granted a single moment of it…even the ones that seem impossible. Namaste.

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